Kayaking and Paddle Boarding the Emerald Cut on the Rock Springs Run in Apopka, Florida
Blog Post - August 4, 2022
We got to go kayaking and paddle boarding on the Emerald Cut of the Rock Springs Run in Apopka, Florida.
The Emerald Cut is a free flowing natural spring that has crystal clear water.
We launched out of Camp Joy at Kelly Park.
The Emerald Cut is closer to the head of the natural spring so the water is crystal clear and stays between 68 to 72 degrees all year long.
The Emerald Cut is great for kayaking and paddle boarding. It's about a 2 mile round trip.
You have two options to launch. You have Kings Landing or Camp Joy. If you need to rent, then your only option is at Kings Landing.
We were staying with family in Apopka, so we had access to the 3 kayaks and a paddle board.
That is why we chose to launch from Camp Joy.
You can see both Kings Landing and Camp Joy on the map below.
Camp Joy has a gated entrance, so you have to go to Kelly Park first and pay the launch fee and they will give you a code to get into Camp Joy.
At the time we went, the cost for 3 to 8 people was $5 to launch from Camp Joy. We had 4 people so we paid $5.
If you need to rent a kayak, you can launch from Kings Landing. You can find them at KingsLandingFL.com. Make sure you make your reservation in advance as they sell out fast.
At the time of this blog post it cost $49 to rent a single person kayak for 4 hours. That's plenty of time to kayak the Emerald Cut.
They also charge $10 per person to launch if you bring your own kayak or paddle board. That would have cost us $40 with our 4 people versus the $5 we paid to launch from Camp Joy.
I think it is important to mention that there is a reason for the big price difference. When you launch at Kings Landing you are really close to the launch area. At Camp Joy you park and then have to carry or drag your kayak a long ways to the launch area. I'm not sure how far it is, but it felt like about 4 football fields. That's something to take into consideration.
In order to pay for your launch and get the gate code for Camp Joy, you will need to go to Kelly Park.
Kelly Park opens at 8am and it fills up fast. So when you pull up, you will probably see a sign that the park is full. There is a police officer at the gate. Just tell the officer that you are going to go camp joy and you need to pay.
The police officer will move the police car and let you through.
You will follow the road until you reach the building where you pay.
When you pull up, let the person know that you are going kayaking from Camp Joy. They will ask you if it's your first time.
When you say yes, they will direct you to go around and park. Then you will go into the office to get registered with you licence plate number and driver's license and to pay the launch fee. We had 4 people so we paid $5.
In the office, they will show you this map of Camp Joy.
After you have paid and are registered, they will give you a paper that has the code to get into Camp Joy. This is what is looks like. The code changes each day.
Next, you will leave Kelly Park and turn right. You will go past the first turnoff and turn onto the 2nd turnoff. You will see a big sign for Camp Joy. You'll drive up and punch in the code and the gate will open for you.
Once the gate is open, you will follow the road to the grass parking lot.
From the parking lot, you will need to carry or drag your kayaks and paddle boards to the launch area.
There are lots of signs pointing you in the right direction to the launch area.
We finally made it to the Vessel Launch area. You will see a large area of lily pads that you are going to paddle through.
I like to bring my drone and phone and other electronics that I don't want to get wet. I have been using the Remote Designs drybag backpack and love it. You can see it strapped to the back of my kayak.
We got into the water and headed out. When you get in you will go to the left and head toward the spring. The water isn't clear yet as it is an offshoot of the spring. Once you reach the spring, you will make a right and head up the Rock Springs Run and the Emerald Cut.
Once you reach the spring you will make a right and head upstream against the current for about a mile.
You can see the Kings Landing sign (yellow) to the left. You will see kayakers heading up towards you as they are heading up the Emerald Cut too.
Along the way we saw deer on the side.
You'll know you've reached the end when you see the bridge for Kelly Park Rock Springs that blocks the way going forward.
This is a great area to get out of your kayak or paddle board and just relax and hang out in the crystal clear water.
The water is really clear in this area because you are close to the mouth of the natural spring. The mouth of the spring is located in Kelly Park Rock Springs.
After hanging out for a while and drinking some water we brought, we got back in and headed down the spring.
It was much easier now that we were going with the current.
The views were amazing!
One of the great parts about kayaking here is to be able to pull off on the side and to swim, climb trees and enjoy the warm sun.
After resting and hanging out, we headed down the Emerald Cut again.
When we got back to the turn to go back to Camp Joy at the lily pads, we decided to go a little farther to a little beach area by Kings Landing.
This is what the beach area looks like:
While we were hanging out, we started to hear a lot of cracking noises.
Eventually this huge tree came crashing down. We all went scrambling away.
Unfortunately, there were two young men who were trapped under the tree. One got out without injury, but the other one broke his leg when the tree hit.
Luckily we had a nurse there and she helped him while we called 911.
After everything settled down, we headed back to the lily pads of the access route to Camp Joy.
We made it back to Camp Joy and brought our kayaks and paddle board back to our van.
Overall, this was an amazing experience. The beauty of the natural spring and the wildlife was awesome. Even with the tree falling, we can't wait to go back. This is such a beautiful area of Florida.
Camp Joy at Kelly park costs $3 for 1 to 2 people and $5 for 3 to 8 people.
We had 4 people with us so we paid $5 total.
Total: $5 for entry
These are the checklist items I recommend:
- Bring a hat to keep the sun off of your face.
- Wear closed toe water shoes to protect your feet.
- Bring your own kayak or paddle board or rent them from Kings Landing prior to your visit.
- Bring a drybag for your important things. I use Remote Designs.
- Go Pro Hero 9 Black video camera to film your adventure.
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